What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is a treatment for type 2 diabetes. There is also clinical evidence to suggest it could be used in future as a weight loss treatment. It is manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Novo-Nordisk. Ozempic is the latest release in a line of similar treatments - including Saxenda and Victoza

How does Ozempic work? 

Ozempic comes in the form of an injectable pen. Simply, ozempic works by increasing insulin productivity in the body and reducing appetite. It contains the active ingredient Semaglutide, which is a synthetic copy of GLP-1. GLP-1 is a hormone responsible for appetite and insulin secretion. 

For type 2 diabetes, insulin is important because it regulates how the body uses glucose (blood sugar) found in carbohydrates. This blood sugar is transported into the bloodstream and subsequently into the cells, which provides them with energy. Ozempic works by increasing the amount of insulin the body is able to produce, which helps to get blood sugar levels back under control. 

Semaglutide, the active ingredient found in Ozempic, has appetite reducing properties which can also help with diabetes. If people are consuming less food, they are therefore consuming less glucose, which in turn helps to avoid high blood sugar levels. 

Because Ozempic has weight reducing properties, it is also an effective treatment for weight loss. However, it will almost certainly provide ineffective results if not taken in conjunction with regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet. 

Can I get Ozempic without a prescription?

No. For both its primary use, diabetes, and its secondary use, weight loss, Ozempic is available only on the advice of a prescription. 

If you are unsure, you should make an appointment with your doctor to discuss options. 

Is Ozempic right for me? 

Ozempic might be the right treatment if you have diabetes and you’ve tried a few different medications already and they haven’t worked so well. It might also be right for you if you need injectable treatment for diabetes and daily injections don’t fit into your work- or home-life. A once-weekly injection might be easier to manage. If you want to use Ozempic for weight loss, it might be right for you in the future when clinical trials have been completed to show that it is safe and effective for this purpose. Preliminary studies seem to suggest that it will be. 

To understand more about Ozempic and whether it’s right for you, we recommend you consult with your doctor or healthcare provider about this further. 

What are the risks of taking Ozempic? Are there any side effects of taking Ozempic? 

All medicines have been observed to come with side effects. Common Ozempic side effects include feeling sick or nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting or decreased blood sugar levels. You can read about side effects in more detail here

Where can Ozempic be injected? 

Ozempic can be injected in the thigh, abdomen or the upper arm. It is recommended that the site of injection is rotated each time you use Ozempic. This helps to ensure there is no damage to the skin tissue. 

Can Ozempic be self-administered? 

Yes, Ozempic is designed to be administered by the person who requires it. However, you should consult with your doctor in the first instance of your taking Ozempic who will provide you with a demonstration and prescribing instructions. 

Is there anything that would exclude me from taking Ozempic? 

You should make your prescriber aware of any past or current medical conditions, especially conditions that affect the retina at the back of the eye. However, it is unlikely that Ozempic will be prescribed if you are allergic to its active ingredient semaglutide or any other ingredients used in the solution. If you or a family member has ever had medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) or a condition known as Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2), Ozempic is likely to be unsuitable for you. 

Finally, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding then Ozempic is not recommended. 

What are the available Ozempic dosages? 

Ozempic comes in the form of a pen pre-filled with a clear, injectable solution. Doctors will normally begin a prescription at 0.25mg. Ozempic is also available in 0.5mg and 1mg doses. 

How do I store Ozempic? 

Ozempic should be kept in a refrigerator between 2-8 degrees. Be mindful that the solution does not freeze and that it is kept away from any cooling elements. 

Ozempic vs. Saxenda: which is best for me? 

The active ingredient found in Ozempic is semaglutide, whereas in Saxenda the active ingredient is called liraglutide.

Ozempic was initially manufactured to help those suffering with type 2 diabetes. However, Saxenda was manufactured with the primary function of aiding weight loss. (Though it can be used to help treat weight related health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes). 

A recently published study suggested that while semaglutide was not yet approved for weight loss, it may be more efficient as a treatment for weight loss than its counterpart - liraglutide. You can read more about the study here

There are a number of additional side effects associated with Saxenda when compared with Ozempic. Some of these side effects include low blood sugar, inflamed gallbladder and acute kidney failure. However, it is important to remember that Saxenda is an older drug. It could just be that this has allowed more time for side effects to be observed. Ozempic is relatively new.

There are similarities between the two. Both are called GLP-1 receptors. Both are intravenous treatments in the form of pens. For each, the dosage must increase in gradual increments over a number of weeks. Both Ozempic and Saxenda are also manufactured by the same company - Novo-Nordisk. 

Page last reviewed:  03/09/2019